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Carriers Plan to Charge More for Unlimited Voice
Now That You're Using Fewer Voice Minutes
by Karl Bode 09:52AM Wednesday Jun 06 2012
As voice and SMS slowly die, carriers are charging more and more for data services, knowing that voice and SMS are just data -- and those steep $10 per gigabyte overages can really add up. The push toward metered billing for data has been relentless, with carriers insisting the move is "only fair." On the other side of that equation, now that users are consuming fewer voice minutes, carriers are interested in eliminating per minute usage and are shifting toward all unlimited voice packages -- at a steep price premium:
quote:
To make sure monthly billings don't follow usage downhill, carriers expect to get rid of plans that let contract subscribers buy only the number of minutes they need and replace them with a flat rate covering unlimited calls. Carriers say a move to unlimited-only calling plans would simplify what can be a confusing array of options. But it also would keep a cash cow healthy by depriving customers of the option to trade down to cheaper plans—even as their phone use drops as they spend more time texting and using Internet-based calling services such as Skype.
Unlimited data is also simpler for the consumer, but that's never an argument brought up by carriers (except Sprint, the last of the big four unlimited providers). As we noted yesterday, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson last week argued that "just data" plans could be coming, though it's unlikely that AT&T's the one to offer them given their fear of losing SMS and voice revenue. Despite what Stephenson says, it seems likely AT&T will keep forcing users to keep a voice minute plan for as long as possible.

Last week Stephenson stated that "the industry's definitely moving towards unlimited," adding that "segmented voice plans will become less relevant." What he means is that voice plans that could provide user savings by offer fewer minutes are less relevant to AT&T's pocketbook. As users naturally use fewer voice minutes, they'd switch to cheaper and cheaper minute bundle options. By only offering users a costlier unlimited option, companies can keep users who consume fewer voice minutes -- paying more.

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georgeglass5

join:2010-06-07
New York, NY

Great now they can lower data prices

to balance it out & make it look, as though they're not trying to screw their customers Yeah I know, wishful thinking.
joebear29

join:2003-07-20
Alabaster, AL

1 recommendation

this irritates me

I have had the lowest possible number of minutes for the last four years, and am always maxed out on rollovers. I wish they offered smaller plans - I'd gladly by a 100 minute a month plan, or even a pure "pay-by-the-minute" plan for 10 cents a minute.
stufried
Premium
join:2003-10-13

Re: this irritates me

I'm on Nation + Canada. Do you think they will offer me unlimited Canadian roaming? My wife works in Canada one to two weeks a month? She is teaching an 8 hour webinar next week and was going to use a landline to call an 800 number, but she'd just as happily use her cell? Do you think we'd hear that this was excessive use and that to make things "simple" we should read contract revision 10145b (released 1/12/2012) Pars. 16, 24, and 48 which when read together plainly mean that unlimited means no more than two hours a day and not to listen to or teach webinar.

What about coworker in San Diego with Viva Mexico that works in Mexico 27 weeks a year?
elefante72

join:2010-12-03
East Amherst, NY

Re: this irritates me

I have the same, but I also have data roaming in Canada (2G). I am always paranoid though, so I try to be careful.

If she is up there 2 weeks at a time, get a small VOIP adapter (obihai) and voip.ms. Calls within canada 0.5c, and US 0.01. The only need would be internet, pay as you go. 800 numbers are free to call too, and no hassle on conferencing. I also have voip.ms at home. Use it to call the fam in Canada for free (voip.ms->voip.ms is FREE)

It seems that there is an all out war in contracts today for "excessive use" and conference calls. Conference calls are easy to spot because #1 they are listed and #2 are mostly 800 numbers. Cell carriers don't like that because you are taking up tier 1 traffic on a cell for a long time . I don't remember it being a problem before "unlimited" plans came to being though.

IMHO they can't offer unlimited roaming because they will have to have roaming agreements w/ Canadian carriers and if you know Canada depending upon the region there are different actors, so they need Bell, Rogers, Telus, etc. And that is money out of their pocket.

The way they limit is (I'm on 1200 minute plan) is to charge you $20 more, take away unlimited, so that means to me simply that the harmonized rate to roam up in Canada is $20/1200 or $0.16 minute, which you know they also uplift 40 points or so so figure under $0.10/minute and that is worst case. They make out like bandits on these plans.
stufried
Premium
join:2003-10-13

1 edit

Re: this irritates me

I have an Asterisks server. She has a working VOIP client on her iPad and her notebook. I also have a halfway working VOIP client on her Blackberry (over WiFi).

I wasn't searching for a solution, I was calling their "simplicity bluff." It is such thinly veiled corporate deflection that they really have to take us as fools.

King P
Don't blame me. I voted for Ron Paul
Premium
join:2004-11-17
Murfreesboro, TN
This is exactly what I have on T-Mobile's prepay plan. 100 minutes a month, with unlimited text and unlimited* data (5GB at 4G*).

It's only available for new activations though, but you can get an activation kit at amazon for 5 bucks, plus most of them come with some sort of credit on it already.

I'm saving about 40 bucks a month over my Everything Data 450 Sprint plan, plus I have a (slightly) better phone selection.
--
My Music blog:
»www.zunetracks.net
elefante72

join:2010-12-03
East Amherst, NY
I forgot to mention acrobits (iphone/droid) is a great softphone I use for linking to my voip.ms sub-account, so as long as you have wifi you can make calls way cheaper. I use it to call internationally (india and the like) for like $0.03/min).

If the softphone is active, you can also receive calls. With voip.ms you can get either a US or Canadian exchange (or both), depending upon where the calls originate to save on LD.

cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7

Re: this irritates me

said by elefante72:

I forgot to mention acrobits (iphone/droid) is a great softphone I use for linking to my voip.ms sub-account, so as long as you have wifi you can make calls way cheaper. I use it to call internationally (india and the like) for like $0.03/min).

Recent versions of Android (Gingerbread and newer?) have SIP registration capabilities baked in. That is, unless the carrier has removed that ingredient from the recipe...

I use it successfully with my Anveo account (where many calls to India are $.02/min or less)
tcope
Premium
join:2003-05-07
Sandy, UT
kudos:2
My father seldom uses his phone. He's on Tmobile prepaid and buys 1000 minutes for $100 (that's 10 cents/minute). In his case he does not always use all of those minutes but as long as he buys another 1000 minutes, the remaining minutes roll over.

(I think he actually pays around $90 as I think he gets a discount)
elefante72

join:2010-12-03
East Amherst, NY

Re: this irritates me

Check out pageplus. $80 for 2000 minutes, and that is for the year and they roll over. Verizon network. Cards are discounted (I got the last one for $72, no tax). That works out to 0.04c or less a minute. You can also use that for texts and data for the occasional need (they deduct the balance). I use them for burners for when Canadian relatives visit the US.

You can use any verizon phone--I was actually trying to get my old StarTac activated for fun --NG tho although I heard some have had success.

scott2020

join:2008-07-20
MO

Re: this irritates me

$55 a month (around $52 with discounts) for unlimited talk, text, and soon 2GB of data. No extra fees or other BS.
wkm001

join:2009-12-14

Re: this irritates me

I have been using the 55 plan since it moved to 1GB of data and loving it. Saves us so much money. I have wi-fi almost everywhere I go but can never use less than 100MB of data. Streaming Pandora is really handy. Also, having 3G in the car for voice recognition is really nice.

I wonder how long it will take PP to get 4G?
blushrts

join:2001-01-06
New Cumberland, PA
AT&T used to let you add data packages to their prepaid 10 cent a minute plan, but they removed that feature a couple of months ago.

cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7
said by joebear29:

I wish they offered smaller plans - I'd gladly by a 100 minute a month plan, or even a pure "pay-by-the-minute" plan for 10 cents a minute.

T-mobile is $.10/minute if you buy the $100 PAYG card. Minutes last for 1 year and get continue to extend a year every time you buy a refill card of any value.

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK

1 recommendation

So now they are going to force you to pay for unlimited...

... by simply not offering lower minutes?

Isn't it great to be in such an obviously competitive market?

atthater

@charter.com

Re: So now they are going to force you to pay for unlimited...

the same tact they used on SMS...
no more $AMOUNT_OF_MESSAGES/mo for $COST packages...
it's an "all or pay out the ass" situation now whereby you either pay 30 dollars a month for unlimited SMS or you pay $.20USD per SMS.....
desarollo

join:2011-10-01
Monroe, MI

They Can't Help Themselves

The carriers will keep walking up to the line until consumers bitch slap them or more likely, congress sees an opportunity for votes and starts eyeing them for regulation.

Either way, they will have brought this on themselves.

ArrayList
netbus developer
Premium
join:2005-03-19
Brighton, MA
Reviews:
·RCN CABLE
·Comcast

Re: They Can't Help Themselves

said by desarollo:

Either way, they will have brought this on themselves.

Pretty much, yeah. They could meet consumers half way and have steady income for decades to come, but they are too stuck on short term profits.
rradina

join:2000-08-08
Chesterfield, MO
If Congress tires to do something they'll play their network-upgrades-are-expensive, looming-capacity-Armageddon and the-US-is-behind-the-rest-of-the-world cards.

mech1164
I'll Be Back

join:2001-11-19
Lodi, NJ

Re: They Can't Help Themselves

said by rradina:

If Congress tires to do something they'll play their network-upgrades-are-expensive, looming-capacity-Armageddon and the-US-is-behind-the-rest-of-the-world cards.

They already did that. Please let them do it. Then we can slap them with rico charges for collusion. Plain break them all up.
rradina

join:2000-08-08
Chesterfield, MO

Re: They Can't Help Themselves

True but they seem to have a an unlimited supply of the same three cards and they are absolutely convinced that during the same game of spades, nobody will notice that they trumped the last six hands with the same ace.

Valen66

@mellon.com
If the cellular carriers want to bill like utilities then they need to be regulated like utilities.
tmc8080

join:2004-04-24
Brooklyn, NY
Reviews:
·ooma
·Optimum Online
·Verizon FiOS

Re: They Can't Help Themselves

They are, and the natural course of events played out.. AT&T and Verizon have two handedly duopolized the market. Few can see the difference between a two headed(faced) dragon vs one- that is until it's too late.. the consumer is still the loser. Also, the regulation for many businesses since 2000 have been on an anti-consumer trend for quite a while. The only difference is that the doesn't affect me fantasy fades and now it's OMG this really is bad for me- the customer... reality sinks in.. AT&T/Tmobile is just the tip of the wireless iceberg.

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK
said by desarollo:

The carriers will keep walking up to the line until consumers bitch slap them or more likely, congress sees an opportunity for votes and starts eyeing them for regulation.

Either way, they will have brought this on themselves.

The problem is, especially in light of the Supreme Court decision, is that money is what buys votes. They want the money from the carriers, so no regulation will occur. To those who think money can't beat principles in an election, it does. While there is a large chunk of voters who are informed OR extremely set in their mindset and will vote on a certain candidate despite the money thrown against them, a far, FAR larger percentage of the population is largely ignorant of many issues and the truth and will believe or be heavily influenced by what they hear in campaigns--- especially if the message is repeated a thousand times.

It's been shown that while campaign dollars don't necessarily buy the win outright, it does has a huge influence.

In short, I don't expect Congress or the FCC or anyone else to be doing much regulation of telecommunications any time soon, if ever.
--
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini
AndyDufresne
Premium
join:2010-10-30
Chanhassen, MN

They have crappy plan just like text

100 minutes- 1500 minutes-unlimited

My guess the price for 1500 and unlimited will be pretty close to try to get people to just go with unlimited and those that use more than 100 but less than 1500 minutes will be screwed. Paying for minutes they never use.

MovieLover76

join:2009-09-11
kudos:1

Same BS

Same BS as always
AT&T did this with text messaging after it started to wane a little. and now they and eventually verizon will do this for voice.
Which is absurd because what most people needs is less minutes not more, I never use anywhere close to the 450mins I have on Verizon, as voice minutes continue to decline.

Verizon and AT&T - people have limits, a lot of customers stay with you for your superior coverage, but if you keep doing everything you can to screw over users and extract more money for services they don't use, and your price points drift too far from the competition, T-mobile,Sprint and prepaid users will leave you.
rradina

join:2000-08-08
Chesterfield, MO

1 recommendation

Re: Same BS

It's the same BS as before because real competition does not exist. Can anyone name a LOB where true competition exists and yet the players get away with crap like this?

Most competitive LOBs bleed themselves to bitter minimums when competition is genuine.
elefante72

join:2010-12-03
East Amherst, NY

Re: Same BS

Well blame the government and spectrum auctions, not the carriers. They knew in a multi-round and done by market area--mostly that 3-4 companies would pretty much own the spectrum. If they wanted true competition, they would have allocated a portion of that to a smaller competitor. With most companies now taking cell towers off the books, the major cost is leasing, backhaul, microwave, and cells. The tower down the road appears to have 4 carriers, 2 microwave, and multiple fibre coming out of it (strangely enough is open in a park sans a 3 foot fence).

Add to the fact that the government is getting too big, so those with lobbying arms get preferential regulation treatment (anti-competitive) and the paperwork gets more difficult..

Also T/VZW are consolidating spectrum to have "new" class bands favored by chipsets and can wipe out roaming agreements to get around the 4G network neutrality rules--this gets rid of the small guys.

They hoard spectrum and say there is not enough (duh add more cell sites), but have 4G LTE fixed now.

Voice is a real problem because it needs real-time class and until they move to VoLTE they are going to have to juggle that around.

I looked at my CellOne phone bill from 2000. $59.95 for 350 minutes ($80 in 2012 dollars).

My employer gets a good deal (23% off, inc data) so my unlimited plan (before taxes) was $101 with 5G of data, unlimited SMS, unlimited voice. They moved me to Canada plan, and that is expensive..big time.

So for twenty more bucks, I would say that is a rocking deal. I dont; come close to 5G w/ wifi management.

And if you don't want to pay $100, go to prepaid for $55. I personally think this is an unbelievable progress and great value.

Once Sprint gets it's backhaul fixed, gets rid of Nextel to get that fat spectrum and Tmo gets it's act together watch out. I think Tmo will become a formidable MVNO like Sprint -- not fatty ARPU but hey it can buy them time to upgrade to LTE

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK

Re: Same BS

Well, one major problem is AT&T and Verizon have been able to monopolize the backhaul which largely prevents smaller competitors from being able to upset the market.
--
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini
rradina

join:2000-08-08
Chesterfield, MO
I don't care who is to blame. My point is that true competition doesn't exist or they would lose customers to someone who wanted to gain market share.

Sure Sprint seems more fair than the others but their network sucks. That's like going to the BMW dealer and threatening to buy a Chevy. They'll laugh and start helping the next guy dreaming of owning a fine German automobile.

Want a real world example? I was at a high school concert in which my oldest son was participating. My mother-in-law was there and during intermission she was trying to use her iPhone's data connection to send relatives some photos. She had one bar of Sprint connectivity. No data was getting through. I whipped out my iPhone, which had four bars of AT&T connectivity. I turned on my personal hot spot and connected her phone to mine. She was amazed how fast everything worked and said that it's never worked that fast.

Try as it might, Sprint is not true competition for AT&T or Verizon. Heck, some say AT&T isn't true competition for Verizon but I think that was several years ago. AT&T has expanded their 3G network and while it's probably still not as good as Verizon's, where they have 3G, it's quite a bit faster than Verizon's. Of course Verizon is now far ahead in 4G land (LTE anyway which is more of a true 4G than AT&T's turbo 3G that they like to claim is 4G).
itguy05

join:2005-06-17
Carlisle, PA
said by rradina:

Most competitive LOBs bleed themselves to bitter minimums when competition is genuine.

Really? Why are all grocery stores in a given area roughly the same price? Wal-Mart vs Target? Gas stations?

Why would I come into a business and take less profit than my competitor if we're selling the same thing and the market will bear what they are charging?

•••••
BiggA

join:2005-11-23
EARTH

They're not going to do it

Why would they give up $40/mo on many users who barely use voice? If they ever do offer anything less, it will be like $10 less, and you'll lose Rollover, M2M, N&W, all that stuff, so it will be pointless. You may as well just use your cell phone for everything, since you have to pay for the minutes anyways.

Scatcatpdx
Fur It Up

join:2007-06-22
Portland, OR
Reviews:
·Comcast

Go Back to Land Line

My question is what will ending minute-based voice plans do for us on a minute based prepaid plan? I use T-Mobile and need to pay $35.00 every six months. I am a loner an not a big talker I f I have to use a phone to talk to a friend your not my friend. I might just go back to landlines
biochemistry
Premium
join:2003-05-09
92361

Re: Go Back to Land Line

"I f I have to use a phone to talk to a friend your not my friend."

Would be a sad day if we were good friends and then I had to move out of state.

XANAVirus
Premium
join:2012-03-03
Lavalette, WV
Reviews:
·Callcentric
·Comcast

Re: Go Back to Land Line

I am also not that big on voice minutes (in fact for the last year, I used maybe 60 minutes total, when I was having problems with VoIP).

I use VoIP from Callcentric and pay as I go - the savings are enormous.

I prefer to 'talk' to automated systems on the phone (I'm very nervous when talking to people, and can/do stumble over my words).

People can and do use your (my) nervousness and passive style (I'm not a big user of objecting openly to most things) against you, and automated systems cut to the chase and don't take advantage.

They want to offer unlimited voice but want to take away unlimited data?
That's not right, you can't have your cake and eat it too - they should offer both unlimited.

Or, they should let you not have a voice or text plan at all in exchange for an unlimited data plan.
I use VoIP for calling and HeyWire for texting, and both are 'free' (sort of) and work over WiFi while the normal methods (carrier voice and text) don't.